Michigan State uses AI to help students with disabilities

The AI technology is expected to be completed by 2026.
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 9:13 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -A conversation with others can be difficult for those with disabilities like autism or ADHD.

“When you don’t know how to engage with people or you send messages to people that are inaccurate or there is lots of communication breakdown, your opportunities for employment and participation in the community are much lower,” said Sarah Douglas.

Sarah Douglas is an associate professor at Michigan State University. In collaboration with Subir Biswas, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, they’re leveraging artificial technology to better support kids with disabilities.

“It has a battery and has a whole range of sensors that can detect movement. It also detects the conversation,” said Subir Biswas.

Out of every six children, one has a developmental disability. Researchers hope this sensor device placed inside a vest, helps teachers working with special need students and ultimately, the students too.

“It can be an alert to a teacher’s phone. It can be a recording at the end of the day or the end of the week and can help them identify who which peers this child might naturally gravitate towards so who would be best suited for interventions,” said Douglas.

Biswas says new technology can come with dangers, but it can also be transformative for kids with disabilities and their families. The data from the sensor helps teachers learn the kids’ behavior patterns and help to develop social skills.

“They’re [teachers] stretched so thin that I think technology really does need to be leveraged to give them better tools to support these children,” said Douglas.

“We’re hoping that at least, even if two kids with autism sees a better life through this process that would be a testament of our effort,” said Biswas.

The goal, improving life outcomes for students. MSU received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for AI research. The new technology is expected to be completed by 2026.

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